Crucial garda role in battle against Kinahan mob remains vacant as expenses slashed
A vital Garda position on the front line of the State’s fight against the Kinahan Cartel remains vacant due to a Department of Finance decision to slash €20K off living expenses for officers.
The post at Europol has remained vacant for a year, despite Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan and justice chief Frances Fitzgerald’s insistence that they will face down organised crime.
Jimmy Guerin, the brother of murdered journalist Veronica, insisted: “One of them must go. Accountants are running this country, trying to balance the books whatever the greater cost. The criminals must be laughing at us and this State’s commitment to fight crime – €20,000 would be nothing to them, pocket change!”
This week a recently retired intelligence officer for the Garda based at Europol took a High Court action against the State seeking equality of pay and allowances with those paid to previous colleagues in the post.
It is understood he withdrew the case due to massive legal costs. Europol was the first international post for Garda Liaison Officers sent abroad to help target organised crime gangs smuggling deadly drugs into Ireland in the early Nineties.
Since then, the Garda Liaison Bureau has seen a huge increase in intelligence exchanges due to the massive extension of Europol.
The officer and his team co-ordinated numerous Irish operations at Europol including Operation Shove, which targeted the Kinahan empire, and Operation Oakleaf, which was vital in the dismantling of the Irish rhino horn and Chinese antiques mobile crime gang.
Europol based intelligence officers have diplomatic status, which facilitates travel around Europe.
However, a joint decision by the Department of Finance and Justice halved allowances for the officers based at Europol.
The new allowance scheme had been roundly rejected by the Association of Garda Sergeants & Inspectors (AGSI), who supported the officer in his action. Once source said: “Why should anyone work abroad and earn less than they would at home? Where’s the incentive?”
The Sunday World understands that management at Garda HQ are now refusing to replace a current vacancy there until the Department of Finance agrees a fair package for officers who have to relocate to The Hague and be on call at all times.
A Fianna Fáil spokesman last night said that the government needs to act immediately to overcome the impasse.
“If the state is serious about fighting organised crime then it must ensure that the two vacancies for a Garda and customs officer are filled immediately. Gangland crime and drug gangs in Dublin are organised from abroad and it will not be possible to stop their murder and drug dealing unless there is an organised and co-ordinated campaign by European police forces,” he said.
“It is embarrassing for this country that a failure to agree a €20,000 living allowance is blocking this country’s participation in this vital area of crime investigation.
Over the weekend Councillor Jimmy Guerin said the situation is “indicative” of where we are as a country.
“The problem is that resources are not being made available and there is no real desire to tackle crime. I find it more upsetting now reading reports about criminal activities than ever before.
“It’s like as if there are people running this country who simply don’t give a s**t. An accountant has cut this money to balance a book as opposed to funding and encouraging investigators gathering intelligence on these dangerous gangs.
“Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan stands over her force and Minister for Justice Francis Fitzgerald is in charge of the security of this State. One of them must go. It’s a simple as that. There is a leadership problem.”